My name is Valerie Fitzhugh and I founded Next Level Learning Center both as an extension of my keen interest in education as well as an opportunity to work with children as a career. When I started Next Level I recognized an opportunity to create a different approach to tutoring that focused on developing a customized teaching curriculum around my individual student’s personality and learning style, as opposed to expecting them to fit into a predesigned template that didn’t necessarily address the specific needs of each unique student.
As I became immersed in tutoring I quickly learned that my students were more receptive, responsive, and productive in sessions not only because I was able to effectively teach the subject or test at hand, but also because I took the time to get to know my students and understand the pressures they were experiencing. It quickly became apparent that the caring relationship formed between my students and me built trust, engendered confidence, and reduced tension associated with school and school related work.
Moreover, I realized that in some instances I turned out to be the only adult to whom my students felt they could speak candidly about obstacles or academic concerns confronting them at school. It also became evident that being able to connect and develop a bond of trust with my students made sessions more enjoyable while also resulting in significantly improved results. Students relaxed, became more engaged, and actually had fun learning, which resulted in real progress. Whenever I’m cornered into coming up with a motto for my learning center it’s generally something sort of corny like, “We Make Learning Fun,” which expresses my awareness that learning improves when students are able to relax and not feel intimidated or overwhelmed by schoolwork and studies.
The current obsession with education reform, standardized testing, academic achievement, rapidly advancing technology, and an ever-increasing selective admissions environment means today’s students are enduring more pressure than ever to compete at a significantly higher level. As a result, anxiety plays a greater role in performance, and properly preparing for tests and admissions exams can become especially challenging and stressful. And when students feel stressed they have difficulty processing new information or focusing on schoolwork, and performance inevitably suffers.
At Next Level Learning my team recognizes that instructors aren’t just teachers, they are also de facto mentors in many instances, which means we must accept the bond we form with students during our sessions as a pivotal part of our obligation to them. My philosophy is that the most critical element of successful tutoring is ensuring our instructors and students are a suitable match. First, of course, the instructor must know the subject matter and be skilled at teaching but, more importantly, the instructor must be able to develop rapport and trust with the student.
So while there are plenty of teachers who know their fields well, being able to effectively communicate with students and efficiently impart knowledge are fundamental skills we emphasize at Next Level. One of the advantages of being a smaller, more personable learning center is that we are able to customize our work around each unique student. For example, some students respond well to a kinder, sensitive approach while others benefit from more pragmatic, structured, or firm tactics. We always begin with where the student is when we meet him or her and then devise a strategy and plan that addresses his or her individual strengths and weaknesses and puts us on a constructive path toward achieving the objectives of tutoring.
I would like to add that over the years we have developed beneficial relationships with many of New York’s most competitive private and public schools, which means we know their culture and curriculum as well as their staff and faculty — a significant advantage to our students and their families. Most important, we are longtime residents and parents ourselves, and many of our students and their families are also our treasured friends and neighbors.
Whether your child is seeking to work on fundamentals, maintain exemplary grades, or perhaps has an important test approaching, I invite you to consider Next Level Learning for tutoring. You can count on me and our instructors to provide what many of our parents believe is the best tutoring in New York. Please contact Next Level Learning for more information about how we can help your child.
I look forward to meeting you.